2014: Album of the Year

Posted on December 31, 2014


Möngöl Hörde // Möngöl Hörde

Each and every year, this whole deciding on a favourite album from the year seems to be nothing more than a foregone conclusion from May onwards. In 2011, Des Ark waltzed off with the title before I’d even finished listening through the album the first time. Every Time I Die had it sewn up in 2012 by the time I’d walked through Mostar a couple of times in the summer. 2013 was a bit of a guff year in truth, but even so my two favourite albums (Paramore and Cult of Luna) were both released by April. The same rings true for 2014, as Frank Turner’s return to noisy land was firmly entrenched in the ‘album of the year’ part of my brain by the time the first chorus of ‘Casual Threats From Weekend Hardmen’ stuck a grin on my grid the size of the riff that follows it in the middle.

Million Dead fans up and down the country have oft-lamented Turner’s solo output, but to do so in comparison to the band they knew and loved is, on the face of it, ridiculous. Just because the vocalist happens to be the same doesn’t mean they can be put up against each other, especially when the sounds emanating from the speakers are so far from each other. Still, I’d be lying if I said I haven’t listened to Turner’s solo records without longing for him to return to more intense valleys, and when Mongol Horde began to surface, so did boners.

‘Casual Threats From Weekend Hardmen’ was the first song to come to the fore, and it is without doubt the albums highlight. People often say that heavy music is depressing, but these people quite clearly have absolutely no idea what they are talking about. After all, nothing is inherently depressing or happy, it all depends on how the viewer (or in this case, listener) approaches it. I can say, with hand over heart, that the kick in to the first chorus of this song has made me grin and chuckle more than most pieces of music in the history of pieces of music. It firmly sits in the ‘if you throw enough riffs at the wall, you’ll get a wall full of riffs’ MO.

There’s a lot more of this on the album of course. ‘Weighed and Found Wanting’ somehow manages to sound like a song that was half-written, but this was possibly because the half that was penned was so massive there was no need to do anything else. ‘Winky Face: The Mark of a Moron’ only lasts a minute, but manages to ridicule an entire generation’s linguistic choices with as much poetry as it does venom. ‘Your Problem’ contains within its boundaries a lyric so beautifully sarcastic I can scarcely believe it exists (‘your problem is you are all cunts’), and ‘How The Communists Ruined Christmas’ is riffs based on a true story.

It isn’t all a million miles an hour though, and when the pace is slowed down a little Mongol Horde retain the vitriol, and do so in spades. ‘Tapeworm Uprising’ might have what seem to be chucklesome lyrics on the surface, but this biting glance at modern celebrity society does its job and more so. ‘Staff to the Refund Counter’ is the sleeper song of the album, and I’d argue that nowhere on the album does Turner sound more full of venom than on the ‘I want my money back’ refrain throughout.

The pair of songs that conclude the album really ram home the fun, the poetry and the unbridled intensity that make this album so god damn beautiful. ‘Blistering Blue Barnacles’ might contain the lyric ‘my balls they will not wash themselves’, but anyone thinking for a second that this is a joke should probably think for longer than a second. It contains arguably the album’s bounciest chorus, no small feat considering the other options on offer, as well as the most glorious pronunciation of ‘Somalia’ that I’ve ever heard. ‘Hey Judas’ is the bookend, the albums stunning finale, a near four minute juggernaut that concludes with Turner frantically claiming that Keith Richards might just be the T1000. Any song that talks of The Beatles and The Terminator in the same story gets my vote, and if it can do it as gloriously as this then all bets, as they say, are off.

No album in 2014 filled me with as much joy, as much excitement or as much sheer unbridled happiness as Mongol Horde’s self titled effort. Album of the year for me, without doubt.